Training your puppy or dog can still be maintained during the Coronavirus crisis.
Sheltering in place means one can only go out for essential reasons, food, pharmaceuticals, doctor appointments, veterinarian appointments and in my world walking our dogs.
It’s essential for everyone’s health and well being to stay active to keep our immune system strong. Keep your social distance and keep taking your dogs for their daily walks. Hiking on trails with wide trails so you continue to follow the guidelines and on less populated trails will go a long way in keeping everyone happy and healthy.
Walking and training in town during this time, has little to no distractions. It’s a great time to train in new and different environments that are less active and noisy.
Socializing a puppy is a bit more complicated, but there is a great option. I know, I have tried it since practicing social distancing and sheltering in place. When someone comes along, ask them to say Hi in a friendly happy tone, while you’re offering treats to the puppy at the safe 6-10 ft distance. There may not be contact but the association to people will be positive. It may even help mitigate the puppy jumping on greetings. Who knew this would be a side effect of social distancing and dog training.
Teaching dogs to be comfortable around other dogs walking by, when there are less people is a great opportunity to work with reactive dogs. Keeping the correct distance while offering treats as you pass by will again, offer a positive association to other dogs while out and about.
A flirt pole https://www.chewy.com/squishy-face-studio-flirt-pole-v2/dp/140534 is a great way to allow the prey drive to kick in, offering mental and physical enrichment. Do this on soft ground, because some dogs get pretty excited and jump when they are first learning how to play with one. You’ll need a space big enough for the dog to chase it without hitting any furniture if you’re doing it inside. I don’t recommend playing inside with a flirt pole, unless you don’t have a yard or can’t find an outdoor safe place. I recommend playing with the flirt pole for very short periods of time, especially with bracycephalic (short nosed dogs). I only play for about 3 minutes with brachycephalic dogs and about 5 minutes with other dogs. It’s an intense mental and physical workout and too much of anything can have a dog become over excited. An over stimulated dog can become over threshold and this can turn sour, quickly.
Puzzle games, tug o war, fetch inside with soft toys are all ways to keep them happy when our lives have turned upside down.
There’s no reason you and your dog can’t continue training and enjoying life while staying safe during this very difficult and isolating time.
About the author: Jill Breitner, is a professional dog trainer, award winning author, writing articles for Dogster, The Whole Dog Journal, Animal Wellness and her own blog. She is also a dog body language expert, loving and living her life on the west coast of the USA. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language recommended and used by veterinarians, shelters, trainers, educators and guardians worldwide. It’s available in iTunes and Google play. Jill, is Fear Free Certified and has been teaching gentle handling/basic husbandry skills to clients dogs for 40 years. She helps you to be your pets advocate for a happier and stress free life. She also does online dog training, worldwide. Join Jill on her Dog Decoder Facebook page